WHFRTC welcomes new commander

By Spc. Abe Morlu, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Maj. Gen. Stephen Hogan passes the garrison colors of the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center to Lt. Col. Joe Lear during a change of command ceremony in Greenville, Ky., Sept. 16, 2017. Lear assumed command from Col. Steven King who held the position since 2013. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Pfc. Nasir Stoner)

GREENVILLE, Ky. — The change of command ceremony, a centuries-old tradition that represents the formal transfer of authority form an outgoing commander to the incoming, took place at the Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center (WHFRTC) in Greenville, Sept. 16.

During the ceremony, command of Kentucky’s training center was transferred from Col. Steven King to Lt. Col. Joe Lear. A change of responsibility also took place, as Command Sgt. Maj. James Hawkins relinquished his position as the senior enlisted Soldier to Command Sgt. Maj. Keith Cox. Maj. Gen. Stephen Hogan, Kentucky’s adjutant general presided over the event and passed the colors from King to Lear.

“I didn’t understand what General Hogan meant when he told me I was taking over this command at a critical time, until my first 13 days when the government was shut down,” said King of his assumption of command in 2013. “It was then I realized the challenge ahead of me here at the garrison training center.”

Under King’s command WHFRTC saw expansion in nearly every aspect of operation; new buildings, increased solar power and environmental benefits, and extended training programs for Soldiers to name a few. All to accommodate an average annual number of more than 70,000 personnel trained at the site.

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According to their award citations, King demonstrated versatility and outstanding service in a dynamic training environment to ensure soldiers received the same high level of training they would receive at any other training center. With the guidance of Hawkins, the garrison training center has increased the readiness of the Kentucky Army National Guard Soldiers.

After the ceremony King and Hawkins were presented with the Kentucky Distinguished Service Medal for their dedication and service to the Kentucky Guard.

Lear comes to training center from the 101st Airborne Division’s Main Command Post-Operational Detachment (MCP-OD) and Cox from the 138th Fires Brigade.

“I will work hard to prove you’ve made a good choice giving me this command,” said Lear to Hogan.

The 9,000-acre regional training center serves as a training ground for Soldiers to meet their annual requirements such as land navigation and rifle marksmanship. It is also the training grounds for the Officer Candidate School and Warrant Officer Candidate School. WHFRTC hosts training for emergency management officials as well as local and regional law enforcement agencies. The center’s 238th Regimental Training Institute has been named an institute of excellence two accreditation periods in a row.

“This institution is exactly what the Kentucky National Guard needs to build our fighting temperament and keep us in the fight,” said Hogan.